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Opinion & Analysis

The Definition of Grit? See Adam Hadwin

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“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming,” said Theodore Roosevelt.

On Sunday in the final round of the Valspar Championship, Adam Hadwin got to be the man in the arena. He was leading the tournament entering the Snake Pit, a trio of the most difficult holes at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course, and he proceeded to hit his tee shot into the water. Hadwin took a double bogey, but he collected himself and went on to par Nos. 17 and 18 to win his first PGA Tour event by a stroke. In so doing, he joined the elite club of PGA Tour winners born in Canada, and he also earned a spot in the field at The Masters. Very cool, especially for considering the story I recently heard about his path to the PGA Tour.

Flashback to the year 2005. Henry Brunton is the Canadian National Team Coach. His phone rings. It’s Jim Kelson of the University of Tennessee. Kelson wants to know if Brunton is interested in bringing a Canadian Junior National Team to participate in Tennessee’s tournament at Holston Hills in September, which was perfectly within the NCAA rules at the time. Brunton says, “Yes,” and he puts together a team of five players.  His roster included four of the top-ranked juniors in Canada at the time: Ben Moser, Rafael Lee, Christopher Ross and Hugo Lauzon. It also included Adam Hadwin, a relatively unknown high school senior from Abbotsford, British Columbia.

“At the time, no one in the U.S. knew about Adam,” Brunton said. “The opportunity for Adam to play in the [University of Tennessee] event proved to be a tipping point … Adam showed the coaches at the event what I knew. He was a tremendously talented and committed golf athlete with great upside potential. What they couldn’t see is that he had a rage inside to make it to the PGA Tour.”

Hadwin wanted to play college golf, but he needed a scholarship to follow his dreams.

“I was not aware that any college coach had seen him play or offered him a scholarship or knew much about him before the tournament,” said Mark Crabtree, head golf coach at Louisville.

In the first round of the tournament, Hadwin shot 1-over par (72), which put him in the top-20 players. Not bad for a 17-year-old kid playing 2,676.3 miles from home. In the second round that afternoon, he shot even-par (71). The next day he followed with a 73. In a field that included top college golfers from the University of Alabama, Pepperdine and Vanderbilt, Hadwin finished tied for 19th.

It was during the tournament that Crabtree noticed Hadwin.

“He had an impressive golf swing,” Crabtree said. “And he beat four of the five guys on my team. I called him the next week. I told him about my background, our team and the amazing opportunities to get better at Louisville.”

The next year, Hadwin was a Louisville Cardinal.

Hadwin was not the best 14-year-old golfer in Canada; he was not the best 16-year-old, nor the best 18-year-old or 20-year-old. When the opportunity was given, however, his talent showed. It was a glimpse into the future; he kept getting better and developed a knack for thriving under pressure.

Hadwin was an All-American (Honorable Mention) and Conference Champion at Louisville, but he did not instantly become a superstar after graduation. Five years later, however, he topped the season-ending money list on the Web.com Tour, winning two tournaments on the circuit. More toil. More grinding. Long flights, missed connections. Hours and hours of practice. Then more validation, a 59 at the Career Builder Challenge in January. Now he’s a PGA Tour winner.

From me and all of Canada, congrats Adam! Best of luck at the Masters! We’re very proud of you!

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Brendan is the owner of Golf Placement Services, a boutique business which aims to apply his background in golf and higher education to help educate players, their families and coaches about the process! Website - www.golfplacementservices.com Insta - golf.placement.sevices Twitter @BMRGolf

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Dave R

    Mar 20, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Hey coastieyaker I agree but I don’t think Adam Hadwin is a rich little brat from the country club there bud? Don’t paint everyone with the same brush,this young man worked just as hard to get where he is so stop it already. And guess what he’s real proud to be CANADIAN.

  2. Gilbert Catillo

    Mar 20, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    Those of you who don’t see any grit in this young man need to give your head a shake.
    To top the Web.com tour, shoot 59 and win on the PGA Tour, takes tremendous grit.
    You have no idea how difficult this is.
    Fellow Canadian

  3. coastieyaker

    Mar 20, 2017 at 8:29 am

    How is Adam any different than the many golfers who struggled through their first few years of professional golf, only to have a breakthrough win at some point? I will give you two much better examples of grit…Patrick Cantlay and Jim Herman. The former, once the number 1 amateur in the world, playing with a debilitating back injury, only to have his caddy/best friend mauled by a drunk driver. The latter, once an Assistant Pro for many years, winning on Tour against all the country club spoiled brats whose parents are either doctors, lawyers, or independently wealthy.

  4. Johnnylongballz

    Mar 20, 2017 at 7:25 am

    I really doubt that he is “the definition of grit”, but he does seem like a nice guy and he is playing really well.

  5. People's Champ

    Mar 17, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    good story. he is so much better than americans

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Opinion & Analysis

Is golf actually a team sport?

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Do a little research on the top PGA Tour players, and what you’ll see is that most (if not all of them) employ a team of diverse professionals that support their efforts to perform on the golf course. Take two-time major champion Zach Johnson; he has a team that includes a caddie, a swing instructor, a sports psychologist, a physiotherapist, an agent, a statistician, a spiritual mentor, a financial adviser… and of course his wife.

“I know this seems like a lot, and maybe even too much,” Johnson readily admitted. “But each individual has their place. Each place is different in its role and capacity. In order for me to practice, work out and just play golf, I need these individuals along the way. There is a freedom that comes with having such a great group that allows me to just play.”

My best guess is that Zach Johnson commits hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to this team, and I assume most players on the leading professional tours are making significant investments in their “teams.” There are three questions that jump out at this point. First, is a team necessary? Second, how can anyone compete without one? And third, how to pay for it?

From the club player to the collegiate player to the aspiring/touring professional, everyone can benefit from a team that offers individual instruction, support, guidance, and encouragement. Such a team, however, needs to be credible, timely, beneficial and affordable.

To be affordable, serious golfers should build their team one piece at a time. The obvious first choice is a swing coach. Golf swing coaches charge from $100-$1,500 per hour. The cost explains why players have historically been responsible for their own practice. The next piece, which is a newly developing trend, should be a performance coach who specializes in the supervision of practice, training and tournament preparation. Performance coaching on-site fees range from $200 to $3,000 per day.

So is team support essential for a player to be as good as he/she can be? My research says it is. When a player schedules a practice session, that session is usually based on what the player likes to do or wants to do. “Best Practices” utilized by world-class athletes suggest strongly that great progress in training always occurs when someone other than the player writes, administers and supervises the programs and sessions. The team approach says the player should focus on what needs to be done. Sometimes what the player wants to do and the things needed to be done are the same thing; sometimes they aren’t.

Now for the question of how to pay for it all. Wealthy players, or those with substantial or institutional support, have access to what they need or want… whatever the cost. If you use an on-site coach, teacher or other professional you will be paying for blocks of time. Fees can be hourly, weekly, monthly, yearly or lifetime arrangements based upon several factors. If your coach of choice is not local, you can also incur travel and per diem expenses. The process of paying for someone’s time can really add up. You can review what I charge for various services that require my attendance at edmyersgolf.com.

For those of you who don’t have easy access to on-site expertise or don’t want to incur the expense, I want to offer an approach that business, industry, colleges/universities and entrepreneurs are turning to: “Distance Coaching.” Distance learning is made possible through modern technology. In today’s world, expertise can be delivered using FaceTime, Skype, texting, email and (old fashion) phone calls. Textbooks, videos, specific programs and workbooks can be accessed from anywhere at any time by anyone with a desire to do so… and who knows what’s coming in the future. Through Distance Coaching, individuals can employ professional expertise on an as-needed basis without incurring huge costs or expenses.

The primary team expenses that can be avoided are those associated with face-to-face, on-site visits or experiences. Distance Coaching brings whatever any player needs, wants or desires within financial reach. For example, a player in Australia can walk onto the practice ground and have that day’s practice schedule delivered to a personal device by his/her performance coach. The player then forwards the results of that session back to the coach — let’s say in Memphis, Tennessee. The player is then free to move onto other activities knowing that the performance, training and preparation process is engaged and functioning. In the same vein, that same player in Australia may have moved into learning mode and he/she is now recording the golf swing and is sending it to the swing teacher of choice for analysis and comment.

So what is the cost of Distance Coaching? Teachers, trainers and coaches set their own fees based upon their business plan. Some require membership, partnership or some other form of commitment. For example, I offer free performance coaching with the purchase of one of my books or programs, as do others. Where face-to-face, on-site fees for performance coaching is available for $200 a day, the same expertise from the same coach can cost as little as $50 a month using the distance format, tools and technology. I highly recommend that players responsibly research the options available to them and then build the best team that fits their games, desires and goals. I’m happy to forward a guide of what to look for in a performance coach; just ask for it at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

Back to Zach Johnson; he recently admitted that his lack of recent success could be traced to his lack of focus and practice discipline. Additional, he concedes that he has been practicing the wrong things. “It goes back to the basics,” he said. “I have to do what I do well. Truth be told, what I’m practicing now is more on my strengths than my weaknesses.”

Zach Johnson has a great team, but as he concedes, he still needs to put in the work.

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Opinion & Analysis

What is “feel” in putting… and how do you get it?

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You’re playing a course for the first time, so you arrive an hour early to warm-up. You make your way toward the practice green and you see a sign at the first tee that reads, “GREEN SPEED TODAY 11.”  That brings up two issues:

  1. How did they arrive at that number?
  2. How is that information valuable to me?

How did they arrive at that number?

They used what’s known as a stimpmeter — a device that’s used to measure the speed of a green. With a stimpmeter, the green’s surface is tested by rolling a ball down the 30-inch ramp that is tilted downward at a 20-degree angle. The number of feet the ball rolls after leaving the ramp is an indication of the green’s speed. The green-speed test is conducted on a flat surface. A total of three balls are rolled in three different directions. The three balls must then finish within eight inches of each other for the test to be valid.

For example, if the ball is rolled down the ramp and were to stop at 8 feet, the green would be running at an “8.” Were the ball to roll down the ramp and stop at 12 feet, the green would be running at a “12.”

Stimpmeter history

The stimpmeter was invented by Edward S. Stimpson, Sr., a Massachusetts State Amateur Champion and former Harvard Golf Team Captain. After attending the 1935 U.S. Open at Oakmont, he saw the need for a universal testing device after watching Gene Sarazen, who was at the top of his game, putt a ball off the green. He was of the opinion that the greens were unreasonably fast, but he had no way to prove it — thus the motivation for creating the invention.

The device is now used by superintendents to make sure all of their greens are rolling close to the same speed. This ensures that golfers are not guessing from one putt to another if a green is fast or slow based on the way it is maintained. The device is also used by tournament officials who want to make sure that green speed is not too severe.

Do Stimp readings matter for my game?

Not very much. That piece of abstract knowledge is of little value until you can translate it into your own personal feel for the speed of the putt. There is a method that will allow you to turn green speed into a legitimate feel, however, and you don’t even need a stimpmeter or a stimp reading to do it. I call it “Setting Your Own Stimpmeter.”

Before we get to how to do it, the first step is to determine if the putting green is the same speed as the greens on the course. The best source of information in this regard are the professionals working in the golf shop. They will be happy to share this information with you. You only need to ask. Assuming that the speed of the putting green is close to the speed of the greens on the course, you are ready to begin setting your own stimpmeter. This is done by inputting data into your neuromuscular system by rolling putts and visually observing the outcome.

Contrary to what most golfers believe, a golfer’s feel for distance is based in the eyes — not in the hands, which only records tactile information. It’s just like basketball. On the court, you look at the distance to the hoop and respond accordingly. While you would feel the ball in your hands, it doesn’t play a role in determining the proper distance to the hoop. Based on what you saw with your eyes, you would access the data that had been previously inputted through shooting practice.

Setting your own Stimpmeter

  1. Start by finding a location on the putting green that is flat and roughly 15 feet away from the fringe.
  2. Using five balls, start rolling putts one at a time toward the fringe. The objective is to roll them just hard enough for them to finish against the edge.
  3. You may be short of the fringe or long, but it is important that you do not judge the outcome— just observe, because the feel for distance is visually based.
  4. You should not try and judge the feel of the putt with your hands or any other part of your body. You can only process information in one sensory system at a time — that should be the eyes.
  5. You should continue to roll balls until you’ve reach the point that most of them are consistently finishing against the fringe. Once you can do that, you have successfully set you stimpmeter.

The key to the entire process is allowing yourself to make a subconscious connection between what your eyes have observed and the associated outcome. You must then trust what you have learned at a sub-conscious level. A conscious attempt to produce a given outcome will short-circuit the system. When it comes to judging speed, you must be prepared to surrender your conscious mind to your sub-conscious mind, which is infinitely wiser and more capable of calculating speed. Want proof? Work through the steps I’ve outlined below. .

  1. After having loaded the data as described in the exercise above, pace off a 25-foot putt.
  2. Using the same five balls, putt to the hole as you would normally using your conscious mind to control the outcome.
  3. Mark the location of the five balls with a tee pushing them down until they are level with the surface of the green.
  4. Allow your eyes to work slowly from the ball to the hole while clearing your conscious mind of any thought.
  5. Using the same five balls, putt to the hole allowing your subconscious mind to control the outcome.
  6. Compare the proximity of the five putts that you just hit to those marked with a tee. What do you observe?

Did you have trouble clearing your mind of any conscious thought? Assuming that your conscious mind intruded at any point, the outcome would be negatively affected. You should then repeat the exercise but this time, emptying your mind of any thought. You will have mastered the technique when you are able to quiet your conscious mind and allow your subconscious to take over.

This technique will improve your proximity to the hole on longer putts. And you know what that means? Fewer three-putts!

Editor’s Note: Rod Lindenberg has authored a book entitled “The Three-Putt Solution”  that is now available through Amazon. 

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Podcasts

TG2: What is this new Callaway iron? A deep investigation…

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Photos of a new Callaway iron popped up in the GolfWRX Forums, and equipment expert Brian Knudson and Editor Andrew Tursky discuss what exactly the new iron could be; new Apex pros, new Legacy irons, or maybe even a new X Forged? Also, the guys discuss Phil’s U.S. Open antics and apology, DJ’s driver shaft change, new Srixon drivers and utility irons, and a new Raw iron offering from Wilson. Enjoy the golf equipment packed show!

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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